Photo of the Week – October 20, 2017

I’ve written before about the value of native thistles, both to pollinators and other parts of prairie ecosystems.  Tall thistle (Cirsium altissimum), in particular, seems to be a key food resource for pollinators during the late growing season, including the migration period for monarch butterflies.  Here in the Platte River Prairies, we include native thistles in our seed mixes for prairie restoration work and try to promote them through our management activities.  Here are some photos of tall thistle from last month.

This bee was one of many feeding from tall thistles this fall.

Skippers like this one often feed from thistles, but this one was just resting on top of a half-empty seed head.

While bees get great value from tall thistles, this one got trapped and killed by the sticky substance on the bracts beneath the flowers (which is probably meant to capture nectar-stealing ants).

Tall thistle seed.

More tall thistle seeds.